The beginning of major state-on-state conflict is almost always a surprise . . . at least to one of the two sides. The China–Taiwan conflict of early 2021 was no exception. The overlapping factors that brought it about now seem so obvious in retrospect. First, the convergence of Thucydides’ three sources of conflict—fear, honor, and interest—was unprecedented at the time. On top of this, Chinese recognition of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and leader Xi Jinping’s eagerness to solidify his re-election in 2023 made it almost inevitable.
The War That Never Was?
Proceedings recently asked several frequent contributors how the next conflict might start. This essay is the first in the series.
By Admiral James A. Winnefeld, U.S. Navy (Retired), and Michael J. Morell